Used car buyers in Bucks County will enjoy an added layer of protection starting next year under the county’s new “Lemon Law” ordinance – the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.
The Bucks County Commissioners on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve Ordinance #168, which will require car dealers to provide warranties on certain used car purchases, ensure the used cars they sell can pass inspection, and tell the truth about their used cars.
State law provides similar protections for buyers who purchase new cars, but does not extend them to used cars. The ordinance takes effect in January.
“Most of our auto dealers by far are honest and do a good job,” said Michael Bannon, director of the county Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures Department. “But I’m afraid that there’s a few businesses out there that have given the industry a black eye, and that’s what we’re looking to address right now.”
Warranty requirements vary based on a vehicle’s mileage, with some vehicles, including older cars and those with more than 100,000 miles, exempted from the ordinance.
“This first-of-its-kind county ordinance is the latest example of our administration’s investment in Consumer Protection as well as our vision of a Law Department that is proactive in addressing the needs of Bucks Countians," said Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie.
The ordinance will also expand local enforcement capabilities, allowing the Law Department and Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures to crack down on dealers who make misrepresentations about, or fail to disclose issues with, the used cars they sell.
New Jersey’s “Lemon Law” contains similar provisions, but they only apply within the Garden State. Ordinance #168 closes that loophole in Bucks County.
County Solicitor Joe Khan noted that in the six months between the ordinance’s passage and implementation, Consumer Protection plans to conduct outreach to help local car dealers understand their obligations under Ordinance #168.
“We have found that the model of giving people time and notice works out really well, because our goal here really is to encourage everyone to do the right thing and follow best practices,” Khan said.
The ordinance proposal garnered words of support from both the state Office of Attorney General, as well as Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub.
“To me this makes a lot of sense,” Weintraub said during Wednesday’s Commissioners’ Meeting. “This really strengthens the safety net for the consumer.”
“We applaud Bucks County for increasing its consumer protection efforts in this arena,” added Sarah A. E. Frasch, director of the OAG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement of support. “And we look forward to continuing to work with the Bucks County Law Department and Department of Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures as we protect Pennsylvania consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices,”
To learn more about Ordinance #168, watch the livestreamed presentation in support of the measure.
Click here to read the text of the ordinance.
Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, [email protected]